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U.S., North Korea envoys meet

Feb. 23, 2012 at 1:34 AM   |   Comments

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BEIJING, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The United States hopes for forward movement with North Korea, the U.S. special envoy said in Beijing ahead of nuclear talks with his Pyongyang counterpart.

"My hope is that we can find a way to move forward with the North," Glyn Davies said after arriving in Beijing to meet with North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, CNN reported.

The Thursday meeting in Beijing between the United States and North Korea on Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament, in return for massive aid, will be first since the December death of North Korea leader Kim Jong Il and the succession of his youngest son Kim Jong Un.

Davies said he planned to raise the issues of non-proliferation and human rights, CNN reported.

The Davies-Kim meeting is designed in part to facilitate the resumption of the six-nation North Korean disarmament talks, which were suspended after the North walked away in 2009 prior to its second nuclear device test. Others in the talks are China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

For the six-nation talks to resume, the North must not only show its commitment to denuclearization, but also shut down its nuclear enrichment program revealed in 2010. It was not clear if the North would be ready to change its policies under its new leader.

Writing in the Thursday edition of the China Daily, Professor Liu Xuelian at China's Jilin University, recalled the two previous meetings between North Korea and the United States in New York and in Geneva and welcomed the Beijing meeting.

He wrote that North Korea's nuclear issue "is in essence a regional issue beyond any bilateral relations." However, he said without a thawing of U.S.-North Korea relations "multilateral talks to realize denuclearization are liable to become just formalistic."

Liu wrote that from the North's perspective, restarting the dialogue with the United States can create "a benign international environment" for the new leadership and help improve "the state's reputation and influence in the international community."

But he said to survive from outside security threats, the new North Korean leadership will not change its "military first" strategy.

"The key is to make Pyongyang feel safe," he wrote.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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